I was born on the 27th. of September, 1964 to working class parents in the city of Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, England. My Father J.E. Stocks was a diesel fitter and worked mostly on heavy goods lorries and units. My Mother Susan Stocks was a house wife but worked part time through her life from time to time. My earliest recollections of life as a child had a musical edge even then. The Beatles were reigning high and mighty all over the world and I was attempting to listen to them. I say attempting because I was only 2½ years old and my brother Les, (J.L. Stocks) was none too pleased at finding his beloved Beatles records scratched and damaged. I had to pay for brand new copies out of my ``piggy bank´´.
I was always surrounded by music of very different sorts and styles. My Father who was 45 years old when I came along happened to be a fan of Al Jolson and really drove us all crazy with repetitive playing of Al's songs. As every singer knows it is the vowels that carry the tune in a song. My Father used to draw out the vowels and hold a note for so long he turned a 'boiled beetroot red' with strain. My Sister Patricia was a great fan of Elvis Presley and I got the bug for his music in a big way. Country and Western was always a firm favourite too; Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Slim Whitman, Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash.....you get the picture!!!
I went to school, some people doubt it but I did. 5th. Avenue School to be exact. My first class was with a teacher called Mrs. Johnson. It was while I was in her class that I realized I could carry a tune. I was a fidgety sort of a child though and my concentration was not the best in the world at that time. After a couple of years I moved to the junior end of 5th. Ave' and it was Mrs. Rose that really noticed I could sing. Mrs. Rose was a fine music teacher and trained our choir up to competition level. 5th. Avenue School was revered for its musical ability, winning shields and awards all over the City. The trouble was I wanted to Rock 'n' Roll in the choir and Mrs. Rose was having none of it. I was ordered out of the choir and this cost me valuable practice and experience. I had to wait for nearly nine years before I sang seriously.
My last leg of my education was at Bransholme High School in Hull. It was when I was in my last year there that I discovered my voice had survived the dreaded 'breaking' or deepening. My vocal quality although a definite baritone by this time still had a good range. I was 'jamming' with a friend of mine William 'Billy' Bowes Jnr. in the main hall. It was a coincidence that at just that moment the drama teacher was passing by. She stopped and listened without any comment and then after I had ended my rendition of John Lennon's ``imagine´´ she said,
``Where the hell did you learn to sing like that´´!!!
The upshot was, The drama teacher offered me the leading role as Danny Zucco in the theatre production of Grease that the school was planning. The only caveat; I had to stay on at school to do it. Like an idiot I refused and 'Billy' Bowes tried to change my mind and get me to go on an extra year. In the end though the production of the show was deemed too expensive and never got of the drawing board. I did not stay on at Bransholme high school. I took my examinations and left. A move that I regret to this day but hind sight is perfect... isn't it? 'Billy' Bowes though, he went on to great things; The Royal College of Music in London and now at this time of writing he has homes in London and his home city of Hull.... if it means anything: I am Proud of him!!!
As for myself, I went from one job to another, building courses, electrical courses, bakery courses and what the government called then, YOP's or Youth Opportunity Schemes. It was at this time that I went back to my first love...music. I eventually plucked up the courage to audition for the (VAA), Variety Artists Association based in Hull. I passed the audition and this sort of qualified me to be booked by club secretaries all over my city of Hull. They used to bill me as:
``Hull's Own Elvis Presley´´!!!
I seemed to go from strength to strength in the music business and at the outset of my career I had a good manager. His name is Alan Copeman. In 1985 my career was really beginning to build and I secured work with McLeod Holden Entertainment agency in Hull. I had enough work to go full time professional. In 1986 I was married for the first time. I married my childhood sweetheart Wendy Smith. At that point Alan and I parted company. I went on alone but if it were not for Alan Copeman and the start that he gave me I would not be where I am today. I recorded my first album in March 1988 entitled ``Autograph´´. I used my own capital because a certain bank that they called the ``listening bank´´, all of a sudden went very deaf!! I actually surrendered an insurance policy to record it. It was a gamble that paid off and I used the album to showcase myself to agents all over the North of England.
My album opened doors of opportunity that I could not refuse to walk through. I became an international entertainer at last but it proved to be expensive personally and emotionally. The biggest opportunity came in August 1988 when I acquired a job on The Viking Line. I was to work on the ferries that commute between Finland and Sweden, not the London Palladium, but to me it was a chance to prove myself internationally. It was while I was working on M.S. Turella sailing from Nådendal, Finland via Mariehamn to Kapellskär, Sweden that I met Maj-Len. I decided to return to Finland after the contract ended and build a new life. To do this though I had to come clean to my first wife and eventually divorce. It was painful for all parties involved because as I have said, we practically grew up together. I had made up my mind though and I set out for Turku / Åbo, Finland. I worked on the ferries primarily and was introduced to different styles of music from several different cultures...an enriching experience to say the least.
In 1992 I remarried to Maj-len and she secured a position in Porvoo/Borgå. I continued to prosper in the business and found a great bunch of guys that eventually became my group, `Finbeat´. Early in 1993 we went to a small but very professional recording studio in Viiala just outside of Tampere, Finland and made several demo recordings. The recordings secured us work at beer festivals and clubs around Finland. I got to be on stage with Finland's best entertainers; Danny, Kaja Koo, Joel Hallikainen, Kirka, to name but a few.
The highlight of the time with Finbeat for me came in October 1993 when we came over to England for a mini tour. The tour was a bitter sweet experience because in the April of 1993 my Father died of cancer and my Mother was diagnosed terminally ill just a few weeks later. I got to sing for my Mother at The Humber St. Andrews Club in Hull with my group Finbeat. That would prove to be the last time she ever saw me live on stage...my Mother sadly passed away of cancer the following June 1994. On the 25th. October 1993 though (my Mothers birthday), I got to play at the Elvis Presley convention of Great Britain that was staged in Hemsby, Norfolk. It was there that I attained my dream of meeting Elvis' musicians: D.J. Fontana and Scotty Moore. The men that were there at the beginning of the phenomenon that we were all celebrating at the convention.
I returned to Finland and deemed the tour a success. I worked a little longer with Finbeat and on the ferries between Finland and Sweden. I then hung the guitar up for three years to look after my children while my wife returned to full time employment after her maternity leave. Victor my eldest son was born in the May of 1994 just three weeks prior to my Mothers death. I have been told that my son's photographic images were among the last my Mother saw before she died. I am glad for small mercies. William was born in the September of 1996. So began my stint as House Husband. It was a time which I shall cherish for the remainder of my days. I feel privileged to have seen my Boys develop in their tender years and an experience that I would advise any man to undertake. I also became a dab hand at baking and cooking. It was also very hard too and any man that thinks of looking after children for any length of time is easy, is also greatly mislead. It gave me a better understanding for my wife and the role that she plays within the family unit. It also showed me that there is more than music and my profession. I think the conclusion that I came to after I completed the three years with them...it made me less selfish and have more respect for what goes on within the Family environment.
I returned to the studio with financial help from two very close friends of mine, Mr Martin Nordman and Mr Klas Damstén, in the April of 1999 to record a CD single entitled ``The Winter '68´´. It comprises of one original song written by myself and three covers, two of which are Elvis numbers and one Del Shannon number. The CD can be viewed elsewhere on this website. I travelled to Hull in the July 1999 in the hope of promoting the song around my home city of Hull. My Sister and I worked almost three weeks non stop in the July taking the CD around the record shops and doing radio interviews. We managed to place the CD in nearly every reputable record store in the city of Hull.
At this point it brings us right up to date and the future to look forward to. I am philosophical about the future and my career. I chose a business that is fickle at best: Entertainment. I have met famous people; Scotty Moore, D. J. Fontana and the late great John Denver. I am an international Nashville recording artist, I have two healthy boys to keep me happy and on my toes. I live in a beautiful place in the world, have forests to walk in and lakes to swim in that double as ice rinks in a winter. In a word: Finland. I thank my lucky stars that I do not live in a war torn area of our planet where reason seems to be of short measure and the bullet seems to rule. Success is only a word but being happy is a way of life. I guess what I am trying to say is;
I am content with what I have and the hand that I have played that has brought me to this point in life. This is a snapshot biography only. Be happy..it takes work but it is attainable. Take care....
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